Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu is hoping the apprentices can upset the masters when they take on “role models” Germany in their World Cup opener on Wednesday. Germany has become a popular destination for Japanese players in recent years, with eight of the current squad playing in the Bundesliga.
Moriyasu paid tribute to the contribution German football has made to his players’ development but urged them to show their own qualities when the teams meet in Doha. “Germany have won the World Cup and that is our aim too—they are role models for us,” the manager said on Tuesday.
“We are learning from Germany but we also want to compete on the world stage with the qualities that Japan has. We have a lot of feelings towards Germany but we have to treat tomorrow’s game as if we are playing any other team and just do our best.”
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Japan have been handed a tough group, with Costa Rica and Spain also lying in wait in Group E. The Blue Samurai have never gone beyond the last 16 at a World Cup but Moriyasu said they were hoping to “change history” by reaching at least the quarter-finals.
Captain Maya Yoshida acknowledged the strength that their opponents possess, having played at Schalke himself.
“We understand that they have good qualities—speed, pace and physical ability as well,” said the former Southampton player, who is appearing at his third World Cup.
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